As a volunteer at two historic houses in South Jersey, and a member in three other historic organizations, it came to me that it would be helpful to other historic sites to have a central place where special events can be posted and a list of resources. Each month, I will feature a historic house with information on events, location, contacts, and a brief history.
To begin, I'd like to feature the James and Ann Whitall House, Red Bank Battlefield, National Park, NJ.
If you'd like to visit, there are two evenings coming up in the month of December when the house will be open for touring. The Candlelight Tour will take place on Friday evening, December 10 from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm and on Saturday, December 11, from 3:00 pm to 9:00 pm.
James and Ann Whitall House is a significant historical spot where a land and water battle took place in October of 1777. Approximately 2000 Hessian mercenary soldiers under the command of Colonel VonDonop attacked Fort Mercer which had been constructed by the Continental forces on the land of the Whitall family. Fort Mercer, along with Fort Mifflin, on the Pennsylvania side of the river, and Fort Billings further south on the New Jersey side, had been constructed to defend the Delaware River. The British were occupying Philadelphia and needed to suppy their army.
The British naval force included the mighty Augusta. The American navy consisted mainly of row galleys. Fort Mifflin had endured heavy bombardment. Fort Mercer was defended by approximately three hundred Contiental soldiers from a Rhode Island regiment under the command of Colonel Christopher Greene. A young blacksmith's apprentice named Jonas Cattel, ran from Haddonfield to warn the troops at Fort Mercer that the Hessians were coming. When they attacked, in a ferocious battle lasting about 40 minutes, the Hessians lost most of their officers. Without adequate command, they regrouped and retreated. Their Colonel died a few days later from wounds received at that battle.
The National Park on which the Whitall house stands has a fine view of the Delaware River and a walking trail, covered picnic shelters, many benches upon which visitors sit to watch the sunset over the river, and monthly special events throughout the year. Perhaps the biggest event of the year is the battle re-enactment which takes place every October, usually the week of the 22nd.